Buhari vows to strengthen the criminal justice system for effective fight against corruption in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will ensure effective asset declaration by public office holders and ensure sanctions by professional bodies against lawyers, bankers, brokers, public officials, and other individuals facilitating corrupt practices.

The president gave this assurance while speaking at the National Democracy Day Anti-Corruption Summit in Abuja on Tuesday.

Buhari said the government would also close existing legislative loopholes, facilitate collaboration with the judiciary, and strengthen the criminal justice system for effective fight against corruption in the country.

While ensuring comprehensive support and protection to whistleblowers, witnesses and victims of corruption, the president said his administration would adopt and formulate the policy of ‘naming and shaming’ all those who engage in corrupt practices.

He, however, maintained that the Federal Government would continue to encourage and honour transparent and honest citizens.

The president said the government would, “educate, mobilise and encourage Nigerians at the grassroots level to take ownership of the fight against corruption;

“Press for a crackdown on safe havens for corrupt assets, abolishing of bank secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens on the continent and beyond.’’

Buhari said that his administration would continue to insist on the unconditional return of looted assets kept abroad and further strengthening of international cooperation through information and mutual legal assistance.

He pledged that government would also continue to strengthen the capacity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other anti-corruption agencies by providing additional material, organisational and logistical support.

“Now, as this administration commences, we are taking stock of progress made so far in the war against corruption, assessing what needs to be done and devising new strategies to address existing challenges,’’ he said.

According to the president, his administration remains committed to the fulfillment of its promises to Nigerians which included security, economic improvement and fight against corruption.

The Guest Speaker at the event and former Director of Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission, Prof. Patrice Lumumba, lauded Nigeria’s strategies in fighting corruption, as he described the Nigeria’s EFCC as the best anti-corruption agency across the African continent.

He said: “In 2015, president Buhari said ‘if we don’t kill corruption in this country, corruption will kill Nigeria’ and I can’t agree with him more; and it is not only true about Nigeria but true about Africa.

“Almost every country in Africa has an agency that is charged with the fight against corruption but the EFCC stands out as the best in the continent because they have demonstrated by wide and deep that corruption can be tackled without sacred cows.

“We have seen that they have recovered monies from individuals who in other countries they are seen as sacred cows and are untouchable.’’

Earlier in his remarks, Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, narrated the achievements of the commission in the last four years.

According to him, the commission has achieved a lot in the fight against corruption, saying that the commission has so far secured 1,207 convictions.

“The convictions secured by the commission since the beginning of this administration reflects a positive progression.

“In 2015, we secured 103 convictions; in 2016 we secured 194; in 2017 we secured 189; in 2018 it was 312 convictions and from January 2019 to date, we have 406 convictions.

“Despite these records, corruption remains a challenge in our country. I believe that the fight against corruption requires a deeper stakeholder approach. The private and public sectors are critical players in this regard,” he said.

While thanking President Buhari for support and non-interference to the affairs of the commission, Magu also commended some state governments for establishing institutional mechanisms to fight corruption.

The one-day summit later went into a plenary session, where papers were presented by renowned stakeholders and scholars on how to curb electoral violence and embezzlement of public funds.